Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Viking's Final Blog Reflection

Hudsonville, MI
Written By Viking

Most of our personal reflections will be saved for the upcoming book (not sure if that's a joke or not), but while it is still fresh, I wanted to express some of my thoughts in a final personal blog post. I will be primarily reflecting on the lessons God taught me through the experiences of the summer.

First, though, a short reflection on the magnitude of the trip. Honestly, looking back, this trip seemed very short. Maybe for those who have kept up on the blog or Facebook can better appreciate the distance we covered, but being on the scooter, it seemed like a minor trip. The few times that the reality of the trip hit me was when I was in familiar places like Washington D.C. or the west coast; places I've driven to before.
I decided to look online at some distances, just to grasp how far 8,500 miles is.
If, as the crow flies, we were to start from my home, Minneapolis, MN, and ride to London, England, we would ride just over 4,000 miles.
Moscow, Russia? Just under 5,000.
Santiago, Chile? 5,602.
Beijing, China? 6,288 miles.
Dhaka, Bangladesh? 7,686 miles.
What about Johannasburg, South Africa? We could have come within a day's ride of Johannasburg, with that city being 8,922 miles from Minneapolis.
Soo... don't tell Rev, but I think we could circumnavigate the globe (24,901 miles) in one summer.

Doing something that is unprecedented is pretty wild. We missed out on likely being the first people to play speed scrabble in the inner gorge of the Grand Canyon, so the scooter trip was an adequate compensation. Even so, just as my Marine Corps career is quickly fading in my memory, so shall the 'glory' of this trip. However, the lessons and observations from this summer will never fade, as they are taught through God's unfading Word. "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." I Peter 1:24-25

"On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate." Psalm 145:5

There were so many times this summer when the beauty of the creation we were passing through was so moving that I would just fill my lungs and yell. There have been three times in my life when I was captivated by the Lord's creation, but this trip increased that number exponentially. Some sights (Grand Canyon, Glacier) were expected but other sights and experiences (Yosemite, rapids, Cascades, desert buttes, plains) were extra blessings that we basically stumbled upon.
All of this served to increase my awe and admiration of our creator God. If I were commissioned to make the most beautiful landscape my mind could conjure, it would be so very.. lame.. in comparison to the majestic beauty that God creates in every square inch. On the side of the road in Arizona, I was running around, astounded at how fine the red sand was, and how the wind had sculpted it into a beautiful waving desert floor. It's easy to drive right on by, even on a scooter, but our tailbones and the setting sun compelled us to stop, and God had a special blessing in store for us. That 'simple' sand is beyond my finite imagination, and it serves to direct my eyes and my praise toward God.
I also appreciated a difference in personality between Rev and I. I don't know how to express it, except that Brady notices a lot more of nature. Almost always. I was pretty excited when I saw two badgers that he actually missed. I have a tendency to put my head down and push forward, but it was good to stop and enjoy what we were traveling through. I am grateful for that difference between us.

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable." Isaiah 40:28

"The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." Psalm 145: 14-16, 18

I don't know that I told anybody but Rev, but I left on this trip with just enough funds to pay for gas. No food, no places to sleep, just gas. We finished the trip with an overabundance of funds. If you've kept up with our trip, you know how my first scooter died in New Mexico. You also know how the Lord's guiding hand was in that entire experience. The Lord upholds all who are falling. It didn't really hit me until Harriet began acting up in Washington, and I was able to see Rev's reaction.. our attitudes always initially improved when trials arose. (That's not a normal human-nature reaction, but an assurance of the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives) When Harriet was hurting, Rev knew that was from God, based on the events that led to it. And when it was Harriet's belt, Wilberforce's entire engine, a tornado warning, the loss of an ipad, a desperate need for an air mattress, a place to eat, or a place to sleep; we called on God. To watch him answer in such clear ways was so empowering and strengthening for my faith and trust in God's provision for the largest and smallest of the needs of my life. The trials became exciting times for us because we knew and trusted that God was going to provide for us in some way in which only God could receive the glory.

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Well I've begun and cut several paragraphs out of this reflection now. I want to keep it short, for your sake, and so that I don't try to smash 52 days worth of God's work into a sound-byte. So, I have just two more things.

What's in store for Viking?
In September I will be returning to Minneapolis to continue my arduous task of upper-education completion. I view it as a necessary evil, so maybe you could pray that I see and seize the opportunities for harvest in that world and during this season of life.
Prior to the summer's end, however, I have a couple... opportunities. (There isn't a word in the english language to describe my level of excitement) On July 17 at 6pm at Whitneyville Bible Church I will have the opportunity to share from God's word and to provide a 'debrief' of our scooter trip. Unfortunately Rev will not be there with me, as he will already be gone on another trip, but he will have an opportunity later in September. It would be a delight to have you at one or both of these opportunities that we have been blessed with. We assure you that your faith in God's provision and power will be strengthened.
A few days later I will be flying to Haiti to spend some time with Haiti Bible Mission. (this is the beyond words part) To be on a foreign mission field, to see how God is going to use the experience in my life, to see how God is going to use the ministry in the hearts of the people of Haiti.. pray that I don't die from overdosing on inexpressible joy. After that, there's still a month of summer left, and I can already see God arranging many more blessings for that time. God is good.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17
A year ago I was trying to convince Brady to go on a scooter trip with me. The logistics and justification of the trip was ridiculous, and I am not surprised or disappointed that he couldn't go on the first trip. However, as I completed the trip, I began to see the potential of a successful ministry trip. I could think of only one friend who would actually go with me, or who I could maybe tolerate for the duration of the trip. So I told Rev he was going with me. Of course, this length of trip is unheard of, so it remained a dream for a while. As you now know, though, the trip became a reality, and God blessed it richly.
This trip did not happen without our fair share of disagreements and roadside arguments. Or even arguments as we rode down the road. If that surprises you, take a close friend or spouse, travel for 52 days with them, only be alone for bathroom breaks (some of them) or showers, throw a meaningful, important ministry into the mix, and let us know how it goes. If you're still speaking at the end, you did great.
However, these disagreements were necessary. In some ways, our ministry was made more effective through our differing ideas, or just being more open with each other ultimately served to strengthen our friendship. I am grateful that we never did stop praying together, and I am blessed that prayer for each other also never stopped, even as we prayed before we parted ways in Grand Rapids.
I am grateful for Rev's willingness to embark on an adventure only a person who enjoys suffering could come up with. His patience as I occasionally misled us with poor navigation and his graciousness as we stayed with relative after relative of mine did not go unnoticed. As far as lessons go, I learned more lessons in regards to relationships on this trip than anything else. I feel that this trial by fire has served to invaluably prepare me for future ministry relationships, as well as personal relationships that God may bless me with.
I'm not sure where God will lead Rev and I as we are geographically separated, but Brady, I will never, ever forget this summer. I will always rejoice at how God was able to use us for two months, and I will love you and cherish the invaluable friendship that God has blessed me with. Here's to writing the second and third verses of World Traveler!

Thank you all for your support, for your interest in our ministry, and for upholding us with your intercessory prayer. We pray that your knowledge of Jesus Christ grew through this blog.

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." II Peter 3:18

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